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To retire, or not to retire



Published: Thu, September 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Elected officials in the state of Ohio who want to retire after decades of loyal service, should retire.

Those who want to seek re-election to continue their service should do so.

But, like East and West, never the twain shall meet. At least not if an overdue amendment to Ohio's Revised Code is approved by the General Assembly.

As the law stands now, an elected official with sufficient years of service to retire can announce his or her intention to retire, run for re-election, and, if re-elected, can, as the new term of office begins, collect both a full retirement check and a full paycheck. It's the ultimate in double dipping, and it violates the very spirit of civil service.

Voices of change

Rep. Lynn Olman of Maumee and Rep. Bob Latta of Bowling Green, both Republicans, are cosponsoring an amendment that would stop elected officials from receiving both payments by retiring briefly after being re-elected, then taking their old jobs back.

The present law allows such double dipping provided the candidate alerts his board of elections of his intention at least 90 days before an election.

An Associated Press survey of boards of elections shows that at least 17 candidates, almost all judges, intend to avail themselves of the loophole in this November's election.

Officials who want the double payments say it doesn't cost taxpayers anything since the officials paid into the retirement system for years.

But it does exact a cost in public trust. Citizens find it difficult to trust a government that allows its most privileged and entrenched members to do something they could never do in private industry -- increase their income by 50 to 80 percent overnight, with no additional effort.

The Olsen-Latta amendment would make these elected officials choose -- retire and make room for new blood, or keep on working. Judges are used to making hard choices. They should be able to handle that one.




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